By: Heero Yuy
This post is taken directly from my post on WallStreet Oasis discussing the fading of the American Dream.
This is a very deep topic of discussion for me as I am a first generation immigrant and a Veteran (US Navy). I will share two view points and see what others think.
- The Dream as per my family and myself
- Evolution of The Dream as a function of time
1.a) The American Dream as per my parents
Abstract: Stable life so that their children may have a fighting chance to chase the American Dream as per their children.
Background: My mom could have taken more riskier routes, like studying for the USMLE to be become a board certified Physician (She wanted to be OBGYN), but instead she opted to build and grow her career from her PhD. She is pretty successful now working as a Director and was previous a full tenured Professor. My Dad had to pivot as his degree became worthless here in the USA so he opted to get a Masters in IT. He left a very well respected Government position in China to become a housekeeper at a Hotel to make ends meet for the family.
Growing up, I was teased for being slightly below middle-class because that’s what bored children do and understandably their feeble minds couldn’t understand my world peering over from their white picket fences living a silver-spooned lifestyle. Good friends stuck around, bad acquaintances got dropped and ended up as shitheads in real life anyways later in life; go figure, sometimes being spoiled spoils a person.
Even in the sport of academics, having the proper and adequate resources at the necessary times makes or breaks your relative rank or success vs. your competitors. As mentioned before, if we played trading places I would have leveraged the resources found in more fortunate households above and beyond the average child could have ever done with them. Why? I’d be busy working or helping others and not teasing the less fortunate. Idle hand’s are the devil’s workshop and my definition of fun differs from theirs.
Parent’s American Dream: They wanted to get to middle class baseline and provide for their children (me and sibling). Taking unnecessary risks that could hinder or deviate from this goal is unacceptable. 1st Gen Parents value stability above all else.
1.b) My American Dream
Abstract: Work in progress. Dream big, do cool things. Military paid well and allowed me to serve my Country and hone in on my leadership skills. This allows me to take bigger risks to break out of the typical Middle-class life.
Background: If my parents busted their ass to get to this country after surviving Communism and the Cultural Revolution and all I end up Middle-class, which is no further than they got, then shame on me for being a worthless human being. The forefather of my current organization said it best: “I would rather earn 1% off a 100 people’s efforts than 100% of my own efforts.” Calculated risks and applying leverage through leadership of an organization (Army of people or Fleet of Ships) is the only way to make it to the top.
My American Dream: Mentioned in the conclusion below.
2.a) Change of the American Dream through time
Change through Time: It wasn’t always so. My parents didn’t take risks but they imposed different end-game scenarios on myself and my sibling. As they grew and matured in their American journey, these end-game scenarios relaxed over-time and now have disappeared entirely. They now trust that the decisions we make is the best for us for the time being.
2.b) Motivations for this change
Why this occurs: Goals and visions are discovered through time with experience and self discovery. For instance, my concept of the American dream was first categorized as per job listings starting from Entry-level progressing to Senior positions, then it became a progression of pay from five to six figures (low to high six, etc), and now it has become absurd because I have more experience and knowledge and can leverage them to build teams and companies. I went from being a foot soldier to a leader and in my mind being a leader is where I belong.
Conclusion: I think it is wonderful to have a healthy debate about this topic and exchange ideas. Quite frankly nothing is right or wrong here as this is a game of perception where everyone can be right or wrong.
So long as you are true to yourself and add value to society in doing what you do then you are on the right path to success. For me, that’s the American Dream.
Don’t worry about journalists or historians telling your tales. No one ever had any fun while worrying about who’s looking over their shoulders! Enjoying myself and having fun are the only technical indicators I need for success.